Former UUP Leader, Mike Nesbitt was at the Belfast Pride march on Saturday and we asked him for some thoughts on the parade.
What struck me about Pride 2018 was its air of relaxed confidence. It’s a while since I have observed a Belfast Pride Parade in any great depth and the change is remarkable.
Back in the early days, it seemed to me many taking part felt a need to force themselves and their issues on the agenda with an “in your face” attitude. That has matured into an assured spirit of celebration of the power and value of diversity, mixed with an undercurrent of protest at the slow pace of change.
The size and scope of the Parade is also significant. I stood in the same spot at the top of Donegall Street and watched for nearly an hour as the Parade passed. I saw an impressive range of public and private sector employers, embracing the diverse nature of their workforce, together with colleagues from the voluntary and community sector, many highlighting the negative impact the denial of rights has on the mental health and well-being of members of the LGBTQ+ community.
You cannot watch that Parade and not be moved to join the groundswell for a new, modern, pluralist, inclusive Northern Ireland.
This is a guest slot to give a platform for new writers either as a one off, or a prelude to becoming part of the regular Slugger team.